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Island Tire Auto

The Ins & Outs of Wheel Bearings:

Island Tire Auto Admin - Thursday, July 16, 2015

Any idea of what wheel bearings are and why they are essential for Low Country motorists? It's simple; wheel bearings keep the wheels on your vehicle and/or your boat trailer!


Wheel Bearing are actually very simple parts.They’re precisely made of high quality steel and are designed to last 100,000 miles or more if properly cared for. Wheel bearings do two key jobs: First, they allow the wheel to freely rotate with as little friction as possible. Second, they support the weight of the vehicle. For example, if your car weighs 4,000 pounds, each wheel has to support about a 1,000 pounds. That means that over 100,000 miles that the bearings will turn several million revolutions while supporting 1,000 pounds. That’s a lot of wear & tear on anything!

While wheel bearings are pretty simple parts, they need to be in almost perfect condition to do their job. The bearings are packed with heavy grease to lubricate and protect the moving metal parts. A flexible seal keeps the grease in and water and dirt out. It’s when the seal starts to leak or the vehicle is placed under an excessive load problems can begin. The grease can become contaminated which causes the wheel bearings to overheat, wear  and eventually fail.


The first sign that your wheel bearings are in trouble is an unusual noise coming from a wheel. It could be a chirping, growling, rumbling or a cyclic sound. The noise can change or even disappear at certain speeds or when turning. Your service advisor at Island Tire & Automotive Services can inspect for bearing wear by lifting the vehicle and checking for play in the wheel.

The majority of vehicles produced in the last 10 years utilize “sealed for life” wheel bearing assemblies which are sealed units which means they, cannot be serviced. The good news is that most of them under normal conditions will last up to 1 00,000+ miles. The bad news is that when they wear out, they need to be replaced and it is often a dirty job. Most of the sealed hub assemblies are readily available but they are not inexpensive.

However, many vehicles SUV’s, and pickup trucks still use the conventional wheel bearings on the rear of the vehicle. These can & should be serviced on schedule. The bearings are removed, cleaned and inspected. If the bearings are still good, they’re re-installed – if not, they’re replaced. They are then packed in grease and a new grease seal is installed. If your wheel bearings can be serviced, your owner’s manual will recommend an interval, usually around 30,000 miles.

Now, even a good seal cannot keep out water that’s exerting pressure on the seal. So if you’ve driven your vehicle through hub deep water your bearings should be cleaned and repacked if they’re serviceable. If you have factory sealed bearings, you need to watch for signs of premature failure.

Trailers have wheel bearings too!  If you have any sort of trailer (especially BOAT trailers), don’t forget it has wheel bearings which need to be maintained. Trailer wheel bearings need to be serviced even more frequently than automobiles. This is especially true for boat trailers that are used to launch boats in salt water. These should be serviced every year, usually at the end of the season so that the bearings don’t have the opportunity to rust all winter. We can also install Bearing Buddies to boat trailers to better protect the bearings.

So what happens if wheel bearings fail? Well, a worn loose or vibrating wheel bearing can cause accelerated tire wear, poor vehicle handling and eventually the wheel can fall off of the vehicle or your boat trailer! We don’t need to tell you how bad that could be. So check with your service professional at Island Tire & Automotive Services and see if your vehicle’s wheel bearings can be serviced and when it’s recommended. Listen for warning signs. If you’ve been fording streams or puddle surfing after rainstorms or launching a boat, be especially vigilant.



Visit the automotive professionals at Island Tire & Automotive Services for a wheel bearing inspection, or for a cooling system flush. Call us at either location to make an appointment:

Come see us at either location:
South End - 4 Palmetto Bay Road HHIs.,SC 29928 PH: (843) 785-3841
North End – 271 Wm Hilton Pkwy. HHIs., SC 29926 (843) 681-2513

How Tire Pressure Saves Fuel on HHIs.

Island Tire Auto Admin - Friday, March 28, 2014

Ever wonder why your car is not getting quite as good a mileage as it used to? The culprit is often underinflated tires which waste gas for lots of local folks as well as visitors on Hilton Head Island. Sure they look black and round and the car still drives fine. However, think how hard it is to walk in the soft sand near the sand dunes versus the hard pack sand near the water – you just have to work harder because of the resistance. When your tires don't have enough air in them, their rolling resistance is dramatically increased: so your engine has to work a lot harder and it burns more fuel to get from the South End to the North End of the Island. Properly inflated tires will last a lot longer and the car will handle better as well.

It is perfectly normal for tires to lose up to 1.5-lbs of pressure per month. Don't rely on your tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) to alert you to when you need more air. The TPMS system is set to warn you when pressure drops twenty percent below recommendations …in most case it will NOT activate the warning light until the tire is at least 5+lbs too low. That is severely under inflated and you needed more air a long time ago. Stop into either Island Tire & Automotive Services location and we will check your tire pressures anytime free of charge. If you aren’t sure how to check your tire pressure we would be pleased to show you how. If they're low – even just a little bit – we will bring them up to proper pressure. Most vehicles have a sticker on the inside of your driver's door that gives the manufacturer's recommended tire pressure for that specific model.

If you have set the tire pressures and the TPMS light keeps coming back on you probably have a slow leak. Please stop by Island Tire & Automotive Services right away and let us fix it right away. Continued driving on a leaking tire usually ends up destroying the tire and rendering it unrepairable.

So stop by and let’s check your tire pressure so you can save some gas.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

Island Tire Auto Admin - Monday, December 30, 2013

A lot of Hilton Head Islanders would like to make their cars last a lot longer. Fortunately, with the current state of automotive engineering and manufacturing, there’s no reason a modern vehicle can’t be made to last for 200,000 miles or more provided it is properly maintained. We have several customers’ vehicles which are in great shape and have well over 300,000 miles!  Automobiles didn’t exist when Ben Franklin coined the adage: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” But it really is true when it comes to automotive maintenance. A great example is Cooling system flush.

Antifreeze (coolant) is made to prevent corrosion and prevent the engine from reaching dangerous temperatures. However, over time, coolant breaks down and becomes corrosive and actually starts to damage your radiator and other parts. The same goes for your power steering system, brake fluid, air conditioning system, differential(s) and transmission. Of course, oil changes should be done right on schedule to avoid the build-up of harmful oil sludge. Don't let your brake pads go too long before they are worn to the point that your rotors or your safety are at risk. Replacing belts and hoses is much cheaper than repairing the pricey damage that can be caused by failure.

We know that this is a lot for busy Hilton Head Island area drivers to remember. Let the team of automotive professionals at Island Tire & Automotive Services keep on top of this stuff for you. We can tell you what your auto manufacturer recommends and help you develop an affordable plan to take care of it.

If you perform routine maintenance on schedule you will reduce operating costs, prevent pricey repairs, maintain your warranty coverage and your car will last a lot longer. Call Island Tire & Automotive Services today for an appointment.

You can reach us at either location: South Island - 843.785.3841 North Island – 843-681-2513. Online Appointments available: www.islandtireauto.com




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